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than any other to opening peoples eyes to that danger. He awakened and goaded the public mind to action.
In 1905 came a direct menace from Germany to France when the Kaiser landed in Tangiers and uttered solemn threatening words. He was blackmailing. France so as to punish her for the agreement she had concluded with England in the previous year. During that critical time Clemenceau carried on an admirable campaign in the columns of his paper"l'Aurore." His articles vibrated with patriotic feeling and enthusiasm, greatly fortifying public opinion. One of those articles ended with this short and pithy sentence, very characteristic of the writer, "Germany is offering a yoke to France, but the yoke is not fitted for the neck! Ycke or neck, one or the other must be broken."
His articles, his speeches, all rallied public opinion. He was made a Minister for the first time in 1906 at the age of 65. The following year he was Prime Minister.
A few months after, an "incident" occurred with Germany over the "deserters of Casablanca. The German Consul in that town had publicly countenanced the desertion of soldiers of German nationality who had enlisted of their own accord in the Foreign Legion. A long campaign of lies and calumny had been poisoning German public opinion about the
irritating question of the Foreign Legion. Very serious consequences might have resulted from that incident, but Clemenceau with a provoking firmness resisted all the German pretentions. He brought indisputable documents to bear upon the matter openly refuting the German charges, and proving that German agents in Casablanca had been guilty of abuse of power. The German Government was forced to
In 1911 a crisis of still graver consequence arose :the Agadir Affair. Caillaux was Premier at the time, and Clemenceau sided strongly against him deeming the concessions made by France to Germany, excessive and imprudent.
Towards the end of that crisis, when the final agreement between France and Germany was about to be ratified by the French Parliament, I remember visiting Clemenceau in his little apartment in rue Franklin. He was exceedingly violent against Caillaux and "his excessive weakness in face of the German pretentions." I remember his saying to me, "I would rather cut off my hand than sign such an agreement.
Clemenceau was convinced that Caillaux had acted with great feebleness. On the other hand German public opinion thought that its Government had made too many concessions to France. The whole of the
itary party with the Crown Prince at its head declared that Germany had been greatly humiliated. Armaments were increased in Germany by leaps and bounds, two new army corps were added to the army which was already the most powerful in the world; war preparations were feverishly pressed. When all was ready the assassination at Sarajevo afforded Germany the pretext she wanted, and war was declared.
For more than three years the successive cabinets of Viviani, Briand, and Painlevé, directed that war in France. Clemenceau was not sparing in his critieisms of them. However hard and severe those criti eisms may have seemed they were not unjustified There is no denying that grave errors had been made, the Allied Governments both at home and abroad were not fully enough imbued with the true war spirit. Nothing was harder to acquire than the right spirit toward the war. It may be said without exaggeration that the average politician scarcely realized what it meant. At the beginning of hostilities the majority of them believed in letting the soldiers tight, and the civilians watch the soldiers fight. Whereas the true war spirit was just the opposite. In other words, the whole of the nation, soldiers and eivilians should all be engaged in the war; that all their energies, all their resources, moral and material, should strain towards one end.
Clemenceau was the first to grasp that truth.
The more critical the situation, the greater Germany's chances for winning the war became, and the more public opinion in France turned towards Clemenceau as to the only man capable of rescuing his country in her hour of danger.
In September 1917, on my return from the Russian front where I had been sent as a French officer, I called on Clemenceau. Everyone expected that President Poincaré, would shortly send for Clemenceau and ask him to form a Government.
I gave Clemenceau a detailed account of the state of things in Russia. I told him that the Russian Army was completely done for, and that in a few months, perhaps even in a few weeks, Russia would make peace with Germany.
"I know all that," said Clemenceau, "I am going to take over the Government under very difficult, almost desperate conditions. But my country and our Allies have not yet fought to the utmost of their strength. They have not yet made the supreme effort, for it has never been asked of them! If I take over the reins of Government I shall exact that effort of my country, and I am convinced that she will respond. Every available man shall be sent to the front. That is the only way to win the war, and we mean to win the war."
It was a magnificent and impressive sight, one of the most touching I have ever witnessed; to see that wonderful old man, worthy of the great revolutionary epoch itself, uttering those subline words of hope and energy.
The most extraordinary part of it all was, that he did exactly as he had said he would do.
Like the great revolutionary leaders from whom he was directly descended, he realized that before striking at the enemies abroad, he must strike at those at home. He waged relentless war against the "Defeatists," striking at their head, who was Caillaux.
It required great pluck, all the audacity of the combative instinct, to dare attack Caillaux. He be longed to a parliamentary group of Radical-Socialists, which since the elections of 1914 had become the most influential in the Chamber of Deputies.
Caillaux's imprudence, his conduct in the Argentine Republic at the beginning of the war, and later in Italy, almost amounted to criminal offenses. But it was hazardous to declare, and difficult to prove, that they were criminal actions and violated articles of the Penal Code, as such, coming within the jurisdiction of a Court of Justice.
In time of peace Clemenceau might have had some hesitation about imprisoning Caillaux, but France was at war; she was engaged in a terrific struggle, a strug